Cecil Beaton: The Royal Portraits looks back in time to tell a very modern tale: the creation of a public image. Offering a fresh appraisal of Beaton’s portraits of the British royal family, the book explores not only the finished images but also the sittings in which they were created, revealing Beaton’s central role in shaping the public face of the House of Windsor and the ways in which he collaborated with his subjects.
Organised chronologically, from the 1930s to the 1970s, each of the book's four chapters comprises an introductory essay, plates with extended captions, and one or two in-depth analyses of a particular sitting. Throughout, a variety of contextual material – contact sheets, test shots, out-takes, sketches, letters, journals, tear-sheets – helps build a detailed picture of Beaton's working methods, the relationships he developed with his sitters, and how the eventual portraits were received.
Drawing on the Victoria and Albert Museum’s unparalleled collection of Beaton’s photographs, Cecil Beaton: The Royal Portraits will appeal not only to those interested in the photographer and his work, but also to anyone for whom the distinction between the private world and the public face of the royal family remains a source of fascination.
'An intimate view of [Beaton's] mythmaking work'
'Stunning ... Sheds light on how the royals were portrayed in the mid-20th century'
'This new book of photos celebrates the work that Beaton, a famed photographer and diarist as well as an Oscar-winning set and costume designer, did with the royal family, but it’s more than just pretty pictures. The tome also speaks to how the Windsors saw themselves and wanted the public to see them, and the way that they used photography to help in the serious business of myth-making'
Town & Country